On the seventh day of the Sibanye-Stillwater miners’ strike in Pretoria, union members stood in kilometre-long queues to get breakfast after spending another cold night in the park at the bottom of the Union Building gardens.
About 3 000 striking mineworkers were waiting for President Cyril Ramaphosa to address them on the wage negotiations. The workers initially demanded an R1 000 increase for entry-level and semiskilled workers, artisans, miners and officials to receive a 6% salary increase.
Democratic Alliance shadow minister of mineral resources James Lorimer said the strike affected the miners badly.
“They have lost an income that will take them months if not years to earn back,” he said. Lorimer said miners lost an entire salary each month of the strike in hopes of getting R300 extra in the long run.
“We have been on strike for three months, we are now waiting for Ramaphosa to intervene and address us,” said miner Lwandile Deyi.
A mineworker from Carltonville who agreed to speak anonymously said they were waiting for feedback from their leaders.
“We sleep in the buses and the taxis and make fires to keep warm. But, honestly, it’s difficult to sleep on a bus with all the people here,” he said. He said the workers have sent a message.
“The message has been received. I think the negotiations are going well because I’m sure they don’t want the same as Marikana. They have learned their lesson,” he said.
Fuzile Majola said the strike has been hard on the workers. “I’m missing home, it’s been three months. For now, I need to accept I cannot see my children and my wife,” he said.
Majola said he hoped for a positive outcome soon because he didn’t know how much longer he could manage. Livhuwani Mammburu from the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) said the unions were meeting after Sibanye-Stillwater made a section 150 application at the CCMA on Monday to conciliate. “Nothing is happening at the moment.
“We don’t understand why Sibanye-Stillwater applied for Section 150 of the Labour Relations Act,” he said.
Sibanye-Stillwater said it has amended its offer several times in an attempt to reach an agreement that will ensure that employees are fairly compensated and ensure the sustainability of the company’s SA gold operations.
Spokesperson Memory Johnstone said last week the company again met the leadership of the NUM and AMCU and presented several new proposals.